The New Paper
Feb 27, 2016
A group of maids who won the top spots at a domestic helpers' beauty contest in December are still waiting for their prize money.
Among them is Indonesian Dwi Hartati, 31, who has not received the grand prize of $2,000 for winning the Style Super Model pageant held on Dec 6 last year.
She had spent about $700, including the registration fee and purchase of entrance and lucky draw tickets to sell, for the event, which was held at an auditorium in Foochow Building at Tyrwhitt Road in Jalan Besar.
Ms Hartati told The New Paper (TNP): "When I saw the grand prize, I was willing to spend a bit more to look better and win the pageant.
"Instead, I ended up with nothing."
The event was organised by two other domestic helpers. Ms Hartati, who has been working in Singapore for the past two years, said one of them had apologised to her and claimed the money was with the other organiser.
She said: "Both of them kept pointing fingers at each other, I don't know who to believe.
"The $2,000 is worth four months' salary. I really hope they will give me the money that I have won."
TNP has tried to contact the two organisers through Facebook and text messages.
One declined to comment, while the other did not respond by press time. The police confirmed two reports have been made.
First runner-up, Filipina Rhonajoy Pabila, 33, is sad that her dream moment has ended up as a nightmare.
She will be leaving Singapore tomorrow as her employment contract ends after three years of working in a Bedok household.
She had been looking forward to her $1,000 prize. The mother of two learnt about the pageant from a friend who used to work under the same maid agency.
She said: "I've always wanted to join beauty pageants like this back home, but I never had the chance.
"When my friend told me there will be cash prizes (for the top five winners), it made me more eager."
There was a total prize money of $4,200.
Before the pageant, Madam Pabila paid a $35 registration fee and $400 for entrance and lucky draw tickets, like all other participants.
She said every contestant had to buy ten entrance tickets worth $10 each and 150 lucky draw tickets worth $2 each.
She said: "We were supposed to sell those tickets to get our money back."
Over the three months leading up to the pageant, Madam Pabila could not stop thinking about it.She spent over $300 on a cocktail dress, an evening dress and shoes, and another $50 on hair and make-up.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to look beautiful, so I spent everything I had on it.
"I also thought I would get the money back at the end of the day," she said.
By then, Madam Pabila had spent close to two months' salary and still did not manage to sell any tickets as she does not have many friends here.
On the day of the pageant, Madam Pabila said everything went smoothly and all 19 contestants enjoyed dressing up in their cocktail dresses, winter outfits and Christmas outfits as well as their regional costumes.
An audience of about 50 people also watched the pageant.
"When I was crowned first runner-up, I was so happy. Even though I didn't win first place, I thought at least I can still go home with some money," said Madam Pabila.
But the money never came.
Madam Rose Melyn, 30, who was fourth runner-up, also told TNP she tried to contact both organisers.
Eventually one of them replied, said Madam Melyn, and offered a smaller payout to her and Madam Pabila.
She said they waited for five hours at Lucky Plaza, but the organiser did not show up.
Madam Pabila said she will take the experience as a learning lesson.
"It's not easy to earn money, especially in Singapore. I hope other maids will be careful when joining these pageants and not be blinded by all the glitz and glamour," she said.
Both Madam Pabila and Madam Melyn have made police reports.
When TNP contacted Foochow Building, a representative said the organisers had paid the $2,500 rental fee several months before the pageant.
Judge says pageant had hiccups
One of the judges of the pageant, Miss Surya Rahmanty, 29, told The New Paper she was not aware that the winners had not got their money.
The freelance model and actress, who now works in an oil and gas company, said: "I had no part in organising the pageant and was only invited through Facebook by one of the contestants to judge. But up until the pageant, I didn't know who the organisers were."
Miss Surya also said there were hiccups in between segments.
"The pageant was supposed to start around 2pm but started one hour later. And when it was finally time for the contestants to walk on stage, some didn't know where to stand or what to do," she said.
Miss Surya added that it is very different from the other five pageants she had judged previously.
"There were no proper sponsors and programme. Everyone was just trying to go with the flow," she said.
But Miss Surya felt it was also because the organisers might not have had a big budget to work around.
"That day, the contestants seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage and no one seem to be in distress," she added.
Get The New Paper for more news.